There’s something about French guys… and you just want to hear what they have to say! I’m often asked what my husband thinks about American culture, food, the people and more. Curious minds want to know what French guys think about all kinds of things, so today, my husband, Tom, is kicking off a new series called The Frenchman speaks: Ask Tom Tuesdays. He’s answering your questions about whatever you want to know….
Ask Tom Tuesdays: Differences between American and French women
First and foremost, I want to sincerely thank my husband for taking part in this series. It’s not easy to write well in a foreign language and his English skills make me really proud. So thank you, Tom, for being open to this.
Ready? In case you missed it, I’ve written before about how to look French, but reader Rayni has the following question for Tom:
Question: What do you think are the biggest differences between French and American women?
Before I start, I just wanted to share this disclaimer:
This post reflects only my opinion which is based on my own experiences. Depending on everyone’s own experiences, things can be viewed from a different angle, so you can totally disagree with me here. Please keep in mind that what I write here is just a general feeling, and that it doesn’t necessarily apply to each and every individual…
So what are the differences between American and French women… to be honest, this is kind of a tough question for my first post! It’s tough because as I said in the disclaimer, it’s related to my personal experience, and most of all, because Diane is American, and considering that aside from her and her family, I don’t know any American women well. But I’ve visited many times and watch a lot of American TV, so I’m qualified to answer although I’d better watch what I’m going to state here!!!
Ok, well, it looks like I’m buying some time here with justifications, so finally, here we go:
Personality: Cold vs. warm?
I think that the thing that struck me the most about my interactions with American women was that I’d generally find them warmer than the majority of French women. I’ve been able to speak to American women in some situations where I’d never have ended up talking to French women I think. It seems easier to have a conversation with an American woman, even if you absolutely don’t know her at first than with a French woman.
I’ve talked a few minutes to cashiers, to random women in the street just asking for directions and other small talk situations that wouldn’t really occur with a French woman beyond a simple exchange. A lot of times (and I think this is particularly true in big cities, but not only in cities), French women seem to be colder on the outside, less open to conversing with strangers and don’t really show any interest. It often contrasts with the enthusiasm that American women can show towards the person they’re conversing with.
I find that the American social style is really refreshing (even if that enthusiasm can sometimes be excessive and look fake).
Beyond what I just mentioned, I think the French standoffishness is a way for French women to keep that sense of being inaccessible precisely to be more desirable. That behavior can be summed up by the French saying that translates to, “Follow me I will flee, flee from me, I will follow.”
As a consequence, French women can often appear vain and haughty, carrying a I’m-too-good-for-you-face. Even if French males are used to that, I must admit that it can be really tiring over time. That being said, I always wonder if American women tend to be more open, enthusiastic and curious toward me because I’m French and they notice the differences? My nationality could also play into that friendly attitude.
American relationship code
In the course of my relationship with Diane, as it was getting more and more serious, I noted something I wasn’t really expecting. At some point we started talking about the future of our relationship and Diane told me that we were doing nothing more than dating up until that point (although we both weren’t seeing anyone else and clearly wanted to be with just each other, yet didn’t say it).
That was really surprising for me, because in my mind we were more than just dating — we were partners and had been for a while, so I was almost shocked by what I heard — that to her, we were just dating. I finally figured out that she said that because we were not officially anything else.
There’s some kind of American dating code where you have to take the next steps and go from dating to being exclusive, because if you don’t talk about it, you’re not really sure where the relationship stands.
It seems that for Americans, first you date, then you’re boyfriend/girlfriend, then engaged and finally you get married. If you’ve been in a relationship for many years, as long as you haven’t taken the next official step, you’re still considered just boyfriend/girlfriend I guess. When we started talking about the idea of getting married, Diane helped me understand that for Americans, there’s an engagement first and that usually comes with a proposal and a ring (and that I’d better not mess up!).
If I was getting married to a French woman, I don’t think I’d have tortured myself too much to make the greatest proposal ever (it was still up to the American standards I think!). (Diane’s note: It was! Cliffside on the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking the ocean. Then later he managed to find a florist who sold him rose petals. And even got my favorite frozen yogurt and RAN over a mile back to the hotel to get it in the mini fridge before it melted in the LA heat.)
I first thought it was about Diane, something she wanted, but I soon realized that the same was going on for all her friends. American women seem to be more attached to norms in a relationship process, whereas I think that French women don’t focus that much on the steps (people don’t really get engaged nowadays before getting married and having kids in France). They can live a happy relationship without having to follow the “code.”
It almost appears to me that if an American woman couldn’t take all those steps, she would feel like a failure.
(Diane’s note: It was never a lifelong dream of mine to get married and have a big wedding, but because of our circumstances, we felt marriage was the right step to take so we could live together since we knew we wanted to be together anyway. I figured since we only do this once, we might as well get engaged, get a ring and have a little wedding! Just at a restaurant with close friends and family. But I do admit that American women, in general, make a HUGE deal out of the wedding and it’s big business! And that’s not the case in France although it’s starting…)
Another area where norms seem to be prevalent is the beauty standards. French women, like American ones, are of course all different when it comes to looks. But from what I’ve seen over my trips to the U.S. and the TV shows I watch, I find that there’s a beauty standard featured, where the ideal woman would be a fit, long and straight haired blond woman (with a little tan).
Here, I think French women, instead of trying to fit to a standard, would showcase their natural beauty, and use what they have to try to make the best out of what they’ve got. That’s not to say French women don’t tan or dye their hair, but it just seems to be more prevalent among American women.
Style: Comfy and chic
Among the dress code for French women is the lingerie! I have to admit that I was surprised that American women (at least for the one I know best! haha) don’t wear the same style of lingerie as French women. I really thought that Diane was just a little old school! But no, I was actually surprised to note that the lingerie at the Victoria’s Secret store was the same kind as the type worn by my wife. (Diane’s note: I admit I go for comfort when it comes to everyday undergarments and don’t see the point in wearing frilly, sheer, lace bras when they leave bumps under a t-shirt and let the whole world know when you’re cold.)
French women always wear sexy lingerie, bras with lots of lacy style, and every day, not only when they go to a date. Once again, American style seems to be more about comfort (I’m not saying the style is bad, it actually look nice, you can just tell it’s not made to be just sexy, but comfortable too like that seamless stuff, Diane just told me the word).
Another area which illustrates the differences between American and French women is how they choose to dress. Most French women would try to always look chic, or let’s say at least a little dressed up. I was pretty surprised the first time I went to the U.S. and saw so many women dressed very casually in stores, at Starbucks and everywhere. Like sneakers and lounge pants!
Most French women wouldn’t go out of their homes wearing a hoodie and sweatpants if it’s not to go for a run. Even to go get a baguette at the bakery, they tend to dress up. Senior citizens too! Same thing when they just go grab a coffee with a friend (or should I say, sit down for a coffee, since we don’t do the take away in France). (Diane’s note: So true! Even our 68-year-old neighbor wears heels, a full face of makeup and “smart” clothes to walk the dog. And we live in western France nowhere near Paris!).
I’ve read things about foreigner men who would underline that chicness and find it attractive. Even if I can’t disagree, I also really like how American women can sometimes just think about comfort and look relaxed where French women torture themselves and wear heels when not needed at all, but just for the look!
So there you have it, the differences between American and French women. Those differences are what came to mind the most just based on my experience.
Again, a BIG THANK YOU to Tom for being a good sport. So readers, tell me, what differences have you noticed between the two nationalities? And what part of Tom’s answer did you find the most interesting?
Do you have a question for Tom?
Submit your questions in the comments below, via email here or on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe you’ll see it answered in a future post (hope to run this once a month or whenever Tom has time). And as always, thank you for stopping by!